Thursday, August 08, 2013

Killing people in the name of prohibition is disgusting

This perceptive story in The Guardian clearly illustrates how barbaric the death penalty really is. Writer Brigid Delaney references the execution of Van Nguyen in Singapore, recently dramatised in Better Man on SBS.

But even this story, like all too many in the media, fails to name prohibition as a key driver of this violence. Delaney argues:
There is the argument that trafficking drugs leads to the death of countless others who use your drugs, and that death is a just punishment.
She rebuts it with this excellent quote from Auberon Waugh:
Judicial execution can never cancel or remove the atrocity it seeks to punish; it can only add a second atrocity to the original one … So long as one sees killing as wrong there is no need to waste time with the deterrent argument, since it would be nonsense to try to prevent a theoretical evil in the future by perpetrating an actual one in the present.
While that is succinctly put, it fails to address the key fallacy in the original argument - that it is prohibition itself that causes most drug-related deaths, not the drugs. Those who don't yet understand why this is should read this short article, which puts it simply.

Also not mentioned is my own first objection to execution: the very real possibility of a false verdict, leading to the state murdering an innocent person after putting them through the horror of Death Row.

Nevertheless, Brigid Delaney's story is an eloquent condemnation of the death penalty and I commend it.

And Nguyen's case is only the tip of the iceberg - see my previous post on this topic: War on drugs still killing and incarcerating.

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